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State Rep. Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) announced today that he seeking reelection to House District 136 representing southwestern Williamson County in the Texas House of Representatives. The district consists of the communities of Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock. Dale is a husband, father, small business owner, Army veteran and public servant.

“As a Member of the Texas House, I strive to provide effective, conservative leadership for Williamson County,” Dale said. “I’m proud of the legislation that I have passed to address inappropriate teacher/student relationships as well as my work to protect children from online predators and to assist the victims of crime, especially sexual assault victims. If the voters choose to return me as their representative, I will continue to serve them with integrity and dedication.”

During his legislative tenure, Dale has consistently supported legislation to secure the Texas/Mexico border as well as crack down on sanctuary cities. He is a leader in child protection, advocating going after criminals who extort minors online or solicit children online for inappropriate purposes. During the recently completed session, he passed a bill criminalizing the possession and distribution of lewd images of children that are frequently used to promote child pornography. In late 2016, Dale was appointed by the Speaker of the House to the House Working Group on Child Protective Services Reform. In that capacity, he participated in the successful legislative initiative to transform the ailing CPS system.

“I’m a committed conservative, but I’m not afraid to work in a bipartisan manner to advance policies that are good for Texas,” Dale said. “I won’t compromise my principles when it comes to issues such as life or the Second Amendment, but, unlike what we see in Washington, D.C., we can solve problems when we put Texas first.”

Dale is vice chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is a former member of the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee and the Energy Resources Committee. He is chairman of the House Energy Caucus and deputy floor leader for the Republican Caucus. The Hill Country News Reader Poll named him “Best Elected Official” in 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2013. He and his wife Mary Lopez Dale have been married for 26 years and their two daughters attend Leander ISD schools. They attend Saint Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Austin.

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State Representative Tony Dale was presented with the 2017 Community Builder Award by the Norton Moses Lodge, No 336 in Leader at the group’s June monthly meeting. The Community Builder Award is the highest award that can be presented to an individual or group outside of the Masonic Fraternity. The award is designed to recognize non-Masons for outstanding contributions in time and effort in the promotion and support of their community as well as community development.

“I am honored that the members of the Norton Moses Lodge have nominated and selected me to receive the 2017 Community Builder Award,” said Rep. Dale. “The members of the lodge spend countless hours on improving our community and I am humbled that they would announce me as this year’s award recipient”.

In presenting the award Lodge Master Frank Allocca, Jr. cited Rep. Dale service in the United States Army, his participation on various boards in Williamson County, his tenure as a member of the Cedar Park City Council and the State Legislature as well as his participation in the Leander and Cedar Park Chambers of Commerce.

“I’ve focused on passing legislation to assist crime victims and to go after predators who target our children online as well as reforming our Child Protective Service not just because it is the right thing to do, but because it strengthens families and strong families build stronger communities,” said Dale. “I’m committed to continuing to strengthen our communities through such common sense policies”.

State Representative Tony Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is Chairman of the House Energy Caucus and Deputy Floor Leader for the Republican Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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Thank you to the readers of the Hill Country News Newspaper for voting for me as Best Elected Official in the 2017 Reader Poll. I am truly honored. During the recently completed session I focused on reforming our Child Protective Services and tackling the issue of inappropriate student/teacher relationships. I also continued my work of protecting children from online predators and to put the law on the side of sexual assault victims. The Cedar Park, Leander and Brushy Creek communities are truly great places and I appreciate the opportunity you all give me to serve you at the state level. Thank you.

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Increasing property taxes are a major concern for many homeowners. As a homeowner myself I am subject to all the forces that impact those taxes. I’m also aware that the state does not set the local property tax rate, but rather the school boards, city councils and county commissioners do.

Last week the Texas House adopted the Property Taxpayer Empowerment Act of 2017 as an amendment to Senate Bill 669.

As a former city council member I remember multiple budget and tax rate setting meetings where no citizens showed up to give input on the city taxes. On my own property tax bill the school tax is 57% percent of the total cost and I’m aware that very few citizens show up at those meeting as well. If this bill is made into law it will help voters understand who sets tax rates and when those meeting are so that they can more fully engage with the elected officials that make those decisions.

The bill does the following:

  • Empowers voters to have a say on property tax increases with their local tax authorities.
  • Strengthens oversight and visibility on how tax rates are adopted.
  • Strengthens the rights of those taxpayers who take part in the appraisal protest process by:

-Ensuring taxpayer value will not be increased because the taxpayer files a protest

-Ensuring taxpayers receive any evidence the appraisal district will use at a hearing

-Requiring more training for appraisal review board members on the protest process

-Making it easier for taxpayers to provide feedback on their protest experience to the Comptroller.

 

  • Creates a “real-time” tax notice for property owners that tells them:

-Current appraised and taxable value of their property,

-The tax due on that property at each jurisdiction’s “no new revenue” tax rate, the tax due on their property at the rate each jurisdiction proposes to adopt,

-How their tax bill at the proposed rates for each jurisdiction compares to their tax bill at the “no new revenue” rates

-The date and location of the public meeting at which each jurisdiction proposes to adopt its tax rate.

  • Requires taxing units to maintain Internet websites that provide basic information about their budgets, tax rates, and public hearings so that property owners can be involved in the policy decisions that impact their communities and their taxes. The website would look like the picture below.

 

  • Creates special Appraisal Review Board panels of experienced individuals to hear appeals of certain types of complex properties valued at more than $50 million. This will save property owners and appraisal districts money by more readily resolving cases that might otherwise go to district court.

 

  • The “effective tax rate” is renamed to what it is—the “no new revenue” rate. Any tax rate above that is one that raises new revenue for the jurisdiction, excluding any property that has not been taxed before.

Jurisdictions will have to use Comptroller-prescribed forms to calculate their baseline tax rates. The numbers and calculations on those forms will be subject to verification and those forms will be made public.

SB 669 now empowers taxpayers in two very important ways. First, the bill brings transparency to the tax rate setting process, giving tax payers the tools and information they need – in an easy to understand format – to engage local officials who set tax rates. Second, for those taxpayers who take part in the protest process, the bill strengthens their rights by making the process fair, accountable and transparent.

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Governor and Mrs. Abbott with Rep. Tony and Mary Dale.

Each session of the Texas Legislature has its own vibe, but I generally think it is broken up into thirds. The first third of session is composed of getting organized, adopting rules and conducting ceremonial activities. The middle third is a heavy focus on hearing bills in committee, taking witness testimony and some limited floor activity. The final third of session is where the heavy floor debate really happens. Right now we are nearing the end of the middle and approaching the beginning of the end. That may sound ominous, but we are on the cusp of the busiest and most exciting time of session. As of today there are just 42 days left until the final gavel falls.

Last week the Texas House passed a conservative budget by a vote of 129-18. The budget is balanced and contains no new taxes. The Senate previously passed their version of the budget, now the differences will be worked out by a yet to be appointed conference committee. By the end of session the budgets of the House and Senate will match and we will send the bill to Governor Abbott for his review and eventual approval.

 

What is Rep. Dale working on?

This session I filed 36 bills. You can find a full list of the bills I filed at the following link:  Rep. Dale Bills  

We are making progress moving our legislation. Here is where the bills stand so far:

36 – Bills filed

22 – Bills that received hearings in committee

11 – Bills voted out of committee

2 – Bills in Calendars awaiting floor action

1 – Bills passed the House

 

Highlighted Legislation

 

Exploitation of children online

According to the Office of the Texas Attorney General they receive reports every day from the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children about predators obtaining inappropriate pictures of victims and blackmailing these children. This new form of exploitation is called “sextortion”. Believe it or not, this blackmail and extortion is not illegal and thus very hard to prosecute. In response I filed HB 2974 to make this modern form of extortion via electronic means a state jail felony. Follow this link to read a recent story by the Hill Country News about this legislation. Rep. Tony Dale files sextortion bill:  Hill Country News

 

Inappropriate Student/Teacher Relationships

Texas has a growing epidemic of educators preying on children by having inappropriate relationships. It seems like we read reports weekly of another teacher arrested for such an offense. Sadly Williamson County has not been immune to this problem. To combat this problem and prevent such incidents from being swept under the rug I filed HB 218. HB 218 is the most comprehensive house bill to address this serious problem. We recently had a hearing on the bill in the Public Education Committee.   HB 218 is similar to SB 7 by Senator Paul Bettencort (R-Harris County). Soon we will debate SB 7 on the House floor and I am encouraged that my colleagues in the House will support strong policies to punish the perpetrators of these crimes.

Here is a link to a recent Austin American-Statesman article about this legislation: Austin American-Statesman Article

 

Visitors at the Capitol

 

We are blessed to have the Capitol so close to southwestern Williamson County. As a result we see lots of friends and constituents on an almost daily basis. Recently I’ve had the chance to meet with the following local residents and leaders:

Cedar Park Councilman Jon Lux

Cedar Park Councilman Lyle Grimes

PEC Board President Emily Pataki

PEC Board candidate Eric Stratton

Holy Family Catholic School 2nd grade class

Round Rock ISD PTA members

Cedar Park Mayor Matt Powell

Texas Retired Teachers of Williamson County

Williamson County Board of Realtors

Republican Precinct Chair Nicole Williams

Cedar Park Councilman Stephen Thomas

State Republican Executive Committeeman Mike McCloskey

Sheriff Robert Chody

Constable, Precinct 1, Vinnie Cherrone

Cedar Park Chamber of Commerce Leadership Class of 2017

Jon Lamb, co-owner of Red Horn Coffee House & Brewing Company

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State Representative Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) filed HB 2974 to address the growing crime of “sextortion”.  According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) “sextortion is a relatively new form of sexual exploitation that occurs primarily online and in which non-physical forms of coercion are utilized, such as blackmail, to acquire sexual content (photos/videos) of the child, obtain money from the child or engage in sex with the child”.  While this crime is increasingly perpetrated against children, adults are also targeted.

According to NCMEC their CyberTipline began tracking sextortion in October 2013.  These reports have been on the rise. In just the first two full years, between 2014 and 2015, there was a 90% increase in the total number of reports. The pattern is continuing, with sextortion reports up 150% in 2016 compared to the number of reports in that same time-frame in 2014.

“This heinous crime disproportionately impacts children and it is critical that the legislature gives more tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to find justice for these victims,” said Dale.

NCMEC says that 78% of the reports involved female children and 15% involved male children.  In 8% of reports, child gender could not be determined. Male and female children each ranged in age from 8-17 years old and had an average age of fifteen years old.

Perpetrators of these crimes use many different manipulation tactics to achieve their objectives. The most common tactic is the offender threatening to post previously acquired sexual content online. Often, the offender specifically threatens to post it in a place for family and friends to see if the child does not comply. They also secretly record sexually explicit videos of the child during video chats and then physically threaten to hurt or sexually assault the child or family members.

According to the NCMEC, “Over the past three years, NCMEC has recognized the emergence of an alarming trend called sextortion, a new online exploitation crime directed towards children in which non-physical forms of coercion are used, such as blackmail, to acquire sexual content from the child, engage in sex with the child, or obtain money from the child.  In October 2013,  NCMEC began tracking this disturbing new form of online sexual victimization of children and NCMEC has seen a dramatic increase in sextortion cases being reported,  including a 150% increase in reports from early 2014 to early 2016.  This is a new crime for which current laws are inadequate.  I commend Representative Dale for the introduction of this bill and for his dedication to the safety of our nation’s children.”

HB 2974 changes Chapter 21 of the Texas Penal Code to address this modern, technology-based crime.  It specifies that a person commits an offense if they intentionally threaten, including by coercion or extortion, to use intimate visual material to gain monetary, or other benefits, to include sexual contact. The bill specifies that this applies to a threat regardless of how that threat is communicated, including a threat transmitted through e-mail, Internet website, social media account, or chat room and a threat made by other electronic or technological means.  A conviction under the new law is a state jail felony for a first offense and a third degree felony for repeat offenders.

“As sexual predators increasingly use online activity to threaten others with harm, individuals who are victims of sextortion are robbed of their sense of safety and dignity,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “This vital public safety legislation will ensure that Texans can turn to law enforcement to stop sextortion, and that the perpetrators will be brought to justice with the full force of Texas law.”

A full text of HB 2974 can be found at the following link:  http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/85R/billtext/pdf/HB02974I.pdf#navpanes=0

State Representative Tony Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee and is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee. He is Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

 

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State Representative Tony Dale filed three bills to strengthen protection for victims of sexual assault and family violence. “Victims of rape, sexual assault and family violence suffer untold trauma and the State of Texas must make it easier to obtain the full protection of the law these people deserve,” said Dale.

House Bill 1812 allows a court to order the termination of the parent-child relationship if a child was a product of a sexual assault. Under current law convicted rapists have parental rights and this causes additional trauma for the victim and the child. For example, convicted rapist may refuse to waive their parental rights when the birth mother wants to put up a child for adoption. Dale said, “It is important that we provide a voice to the child and a mother when a child is the result of a violent act. It is our duty to protect the victims of these acts and to make sure that the perpetrator is not allowed to further victimize the child and mother.”

House Bill 461 provides law enforcement with an alternative method of serving protective orders when numerous unsuccessful attempts have been made over a 48-hour period. Speeding up the service process is important so that the protective order can be enforced by police and to protect the person it is intended to protect. Oftentimes, subjects of protective orders evade law enforcement when constables are attempting service. Any delay in serving the protective order can place the victim in jeopardy. Williamson County Sheriff, Robert Chody said, “Introducing bills such as this are a great testimony of how Texas laws, though good, can be improved. Representative Dale not only listened to my proposals and suggestions, but took actions for victims of crimes in Williamson County and Texas.”

House Bill 472 seeks to extend the benefits of a protective order and prevent victims from having to go to court on an annual basis to reaffirm the need for the protective order. Dale said, “Victims that have been issued a protective order should not be brought back to court year after year, by the subject of the protective order to once again explain and prove the need for the protective order.”

“House Bills 1812, 461 and 472 address a variety of issues that will further protect victims of these crimes. We must not allow victims of these crimes to continue to be victimized by not fully affording them all the protections that we can provide,” Dale said.

State Representative Tony Dale is Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee, is a member of the Environmental Regulation Committee and serves as Chairman of the House Energy Caucus. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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Today Texas House Speaker Joe Straus announced committee assignments.  State Representative Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park) is assigned to the Environmental Regulation Committee and is appointed Vice Chairman of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee.  Earlier this week Representative Dale was elected by his colleagues as Chairman of the Texas House Energy Caucus, a bi-partisan organization that studies issues related to oil, gas and electricity.

Dale said, “I am honored that the Speaker appointed me to these influential committees. I look forward to working on both committees to ensure the economic sustainability of our state and the protection of all citizens.”

The House Committee on Environmental Regulation has jurisdiction over air, land and water pollution to include industrial development, waste disposal and has oversight of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  “Protecting our natural resources, while fostering a climate conducive to job growth, requires thoughtful balance.  I’m committed to common-sense policies based on sound science that will protect not just the Texas environment, but also our jobs,” said Dale.

The Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee has jurisdiction over juvenile delinquency and gang violence, criminal law and penalties applied to juveniles and civil law related to familial relationships.  The committee also evaluates services to support children in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services who are victims of human trafficking. “During my tenure in the legislature, I’ve worked to improve protections for victims of domestic violence and human trafficking.  As Vice Chair of the Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee, I will continue this work.  Gangs represent a significant public safety threat to Texas due to their propensity for violence and their connection to alien smuggling organizations and Mexican cartels. Texas must continue to address the challenges posed by these gangs that fuel violent crime in our state.”

Tony Dale was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 2012. He is a small business owner and veteran of the U.S. Army who previously served on the Cedar Park City Council. He represents southwestern Williamson County, Cedar Park, Leander, Brushy Creek, and parts of Austin and Round Rock.

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Members of the Texas Conservative Coalition (TCC) held a press conference at the state capitol to unveil their 2017 Pledge with Texans, a pledge made with constituents across the state to advance, support and vote for legislation to fulfill the pledge’s six core principles, including:

  • Protecting constitutional rights;
  • Advancing economic freedom by reducing barriers for first-time employers and job seekers;
  • Promoting government reform, accountability and fiscal responsibility;
  • Encouraging job creation through tax reform, reduction and elimination;
  • Improving education; and
  • Working to strengthen border security and stem illegal immigration.

(Rep. Dale, flanked by over 40 members of the Texas House of Representative, presenting the Border Security segment of the 2017 TCC Pledge with Texans.)

Over 40 members of the Texas House of Representatives were in attendance to announce the pledge, with Representatives Tony Dale (R-Cedar Park), James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth), Jason Isaac (R-Dripping Springs), Jodie Laubenberg (R-Parker), Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) and Ron Simmons (R-Carollton) each speaking on one of the policy principles.

 

“As a TCC Board Member I’m pleased to stand with my colleagues to commit to Texans that we’ll work tirelessly to pass legislation consistent with the pledge,” said Rep. Dale.

“Each legislative session, our caucus makes a commitment to the people of Texas to promote and pass legislation advancing the values that so many Texans hold dear – values which protect families and ensure limited government, individual liberty and free enterprise,” TCC President and Representative James Frank said in a statement. “Working together, TCC will continue to identify opportunities to pass conservative legislation into law and we look forward to significant progress on every item within this year’s Pledge with Texans.”

“I’m thrilled to see so many representatives joining together to fight for conservative values and a bright future for the State of Texas,” added TCC’s Vice President, Representative Jason Isaac. “The 84th Legislative Session was called the most conservative in recent memory — but make no mistake, there’s more to come in the 85th. I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues to fulfill our Pledge with Texans.”

TCC is the conservative caucus of the Texas Legislature. Since its founding in 1985, TCC’s mission has been to promote and defend limited government, individual liberty, free enterprise and traditional values – a platform that has for decades given a voice to grassroots activists, claimed countless conservative victories across the State of Texas and supported elected officials as they pursue conservative action.

 

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January 10th marks the opening day the 85th Texas legislative session.  State Representative Tony Dale cordially invites you to an opening day reception at his capitol office.  Drinks and lite snacks will be provided.  Please join Rep. Dale and his family as follows:

Opening Day Reception
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
9:00 am to noon
Capitol extension office E2.602

The oath ceremony begins at noon in the House Chamber. Seating in the House Gallery is on a first come, first seated basis and seating is limited. The ceremony will also be broadcast on TV and can be viewed from Rep. Dale’s office.

Can’t make the trek to the Capitol?  No problem.

Traveling to the Capitol during the day and navigating traffic, parking and security can be a challenge.  There is no need to drive downtown to participate in the opening of the session.  Rep. Dale also invites you to a ceremonial swearing in and reception in the district.

Please join Rep. Dale and his family for a swearing in ceremony and happy hour on Thursday, January 19, 2017 in the evening.  Williamson County Court-At-Law Judge Laura Barker will conduct the oath ceremony and a reception will follow at Red Horn Coffee & Brewing Company.

Rep. Dale looks forward to welcoming you at this event in appreciation of your support of his candidacy.

 

Ceremonial swearing in and Happy Hour
Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ceremony begins at 7:00 pm
Cedar Park Municipal Court
911 Quest Parkway, Cedar Park, TX  78613

Happy Hour to follow starting at about 7:30 – 7:40 pm.

Red Horn Coffee House and Brewing Company
13010 West Parmer Lane, #800, Cedar Park, TX 78613

 

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